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Book club guide: "The Couple Next Door" by Shari Lapena discussion questions and menu

Book club guide: "The Couple Next Door" by Shari Lapena discussion questions and menu

If your book club is searching for an autumn read, The Couple Next Door, the debut suspense novel from author Shari Lapena is the perfect choice. This gripping novel about the investigation into a disappearance offers a look behind the polished exterior of upper middle class suburbia and is sure to spark contentious debate from start to finish. The book is a quick read but packs its share of twists and turns.

Read on for some discussion questions and the perfect pairing menu for your next book club meeting. 

(via Penguin Random House)

Anne and Marco Conti seem to have it all—a loving relationship, a wonderful home, and their beautiful baby, Cora. But one night when they are at a dinner party next door, a terrible crime is committed. Suspicion immediately focuses on the parents. But the truth is a much more complicated story.

Inside the curtained house, an unsettling account of what actually happened unfolds. Detective Rasbach knows that the panicked couple is hiding something. Both Anne and Marco  soon discover that the other is keeping secrets, secrets they’ve kept for years. 

What follows is the nerve-racking unraveling of a family—a chilling tale of  deception, duplicity, and unfaithfulness that will keep you breathless until the final shocking twist.

(Spoiler alert!)

- What did you make of the initial decision Anne and Marco made to leave their infant daughter asleep at home alone? What decision would you have made in their situation?

- How would you describe the various relationships between Anne and her parents and between Marco and Anne’s parents? What were your initial thoughts about Anne’s parents and how did they evolve throughout the novel?

- What do you make of Detective Rasbach? What sorts of prior experiences might have shaped his perceptions and preconceived notions about the Contis?

- How would you describe the character of Cynthia? What do you think of the respective relationships between Cynthia and Anne and Cynthia and Marco? 

- What did you think of the various secrets that are revealed throughout the novel? Which was the most surprising? Which was the least surprising?

- What do you make of what transpires in the last few pages of the novel? Did you find it believable? What do you think will become of Anne in its aftermath?

- Do you feel that each character received his or her due at the end of the book?

- Were there specific clues in the novel that led you to piece together what happened prior to the ending? If so, what were they?


Our original pairing for this book featured a recipe for seven layer dip, which serves as the perfect complement to this multidimensional suspense novel and is as simple to make as this book is to read. The following menu builds on that recipe and includes more items that will be a hit at your next book club meeting and will feed your guests' appetite amid spirited conversation. 

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5 powerful war stories by famous authors

Book pairing: “The Couple Next Door” by Shari Lapena & seven-layer dip

Book pairing: “The Couple Next Door” by Shari Lapena & seven-layer dip